Thursday, December 17, 2009

Amelia Rollings' Voice Studio Recital

The final performance for my fall semester was Wednesday, December 16th. I performed two pieces in the Amelia Rollings' voice studio recital. It was nice to be first in the program with my classical piece, "Porgi amor", because I could relax (and turn pages for Cale) until it was my turn again at the end with my musical theatre piece, "I Can Do Better Than That." I have included the videos with this post. I have to say that belting is still new for me and I'm finding it a fun challenge to step out of my classical "box" and become a better singer on that end of the spectrum.

The whole evening was fantastic, with everyone performing both a musical theatre and classical piece on the program. It was amazing how everyone's improved and changed so much over the course of the semester, me included. Amelia is a great teacher, and I want to include a quote that she had provided to us at one point in the semester for a little more encouragement: (from Nike) "All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you're not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you're the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no's become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES." I believe that every singer told them "YES" at the recital.

Congratulations to everyone in the Amelia Rollings' voice studio this semester and a HUGE thanks goes out to Cale Plute, master accompanist! He had a TON of music to learn and play for all of us and did it well, even with some of the pages ending up under the piano at one point. I also apologize to Cale for watching his fingers more than the music at times. I've always been amazed with superior piano playing skills and has a trance-like effect on me. In any case, may next semester bring everyone many more successes!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


We had a little snow fall on Saturday, December 5th. It put us girls (Natalie, Jess and me) in a romantic, "yay for winter and Christmas" kind of mood. I don't ice skate much. Actually, I think I can count the times I've ice skated in my life on one hand. After dinner on Friday night (Dec. 4), Jess, Natalie and I decide to go ice skating, and Yi-Ting planned to join us after she fulfilled a prior commitment. I did manage to fall once in classic style. Jess and Natalie were on each side of me, my skate hit a divot in the ice and I fell forward. Thank goodness that we were holding hands because Jess and Natalie prevented me from doing a total face-plant in the ice! Overall, we had a good time. I'd go again...but not right away. (In the picture is me, Natalie and Jess.)

Another evening of fun was planned for after the Essence of Joy concert on December 11th.We went to Champs to eat, drink, be merry, shoot pool, and enjoy each others' company. I've never been a really great at shooting pool, but I've always enjoyed playing. One of our topics of conversation dealt with my poor skills in both pool and bowling, yet my grandfather used to always put us in the bowling alley or pool table to keep us (my brother, sister and me) out of trouble. Hmm...anyhow... (In the picture is Tzu-Yi.)

Sunday, December 13th was the annual Zombek women's pierogi making ritual. The afternoon was filled with laughter, Christmas songs, reminiscing (and some tears to go along with the reminiscing), food, drink and lots and LOTS of pierogis. We uphold the Polish tradition of my great-grandmother, Josephine Zombek, who did this with my mom and aunts when I was a little girl. The pierogi making is in preparation for the traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner, Wigilia (pronounced Vleeya). Of course, getting to my Aunt Jody's house was the challenge, because of the freezing rain/ice situation that moved through Pennsylvania during my drive home. Nonetheless, it was a good time once I arrived. (In the picture from top is my mom, Aunt Jody, Grandma and then sister, Brea.)

The week of finals (Dec. 14-18) brought the Amelia Rollings' voice studio recital. I was blessed to have a few wonderful friends and family in the audience: Mom, Dad, Brea (sister), Paul, Jess, Natalie, Xavier, and Zach. After the event, Natalie, Xavier and I went to Otto's for a quick but nice dinner and shenanigans ensued for a little while. Yes, that is silly string in the picture with Natalie and me.

Overall, fun has been had. Time has been well-spent and not wasted. Much has been learned and accomplished this semester and I am looking positively at the next semester, even though it will definitely be bringing me a TON of work in multiple areas. I have great friends, wonderful family and many blessings for which I am thankful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

100J Voice Recital

Currently, there are three graduate voice students teaching voice lessons to students who audition for lessons: Aidan Davis, Sarah Rodriguez, and Amelia Rollings. I was blessed enough to be placed with Amelia Rollings. She has taken my voice to great places that I did not know it could go. There is much that I have learned from her this semester, and I am pleased to post the video from the first of two voice recitals.

Tonight's recital was for all those who were studying with the three graduate voice students. For this recital, I sang "Porgi amor" from Le Nozze de Figaro. I watched the video a little while ago and could hardly believe that it was my voice. I am amazed at what I have learned to do throughout the course of this semester. I am very happy with my performance and am looking towards my next performance on December 16th, which is the Amelia Rollings studio recital, students solely of Amelia Rollings. On this second recital I will perform "Porgi amor" again, along with a musical theatre/belt song...yet to be chosen.

I hope you enjoy this video and stay tuned for the next one from the next recital. All I have to say right now is "THANK YOU, AMELIA!"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

PSU Homecoming 2009

My first PSU football experience included decent weather and a win. My second and last PSU football experience for the season was during the Homecoming weekend. The weather wasn't exactly cooperating that weekend. We had our first snowfall. One of the pictures included with this post is the view across the street from my apartment window. There's nothing like waking up to 3+ inches of snow in mid-October in Central Pennsylvania, eh?

John, a friend of mine, crashed on my futon for the weekend. (He was officially my first overnight guest who was NOT related to me!) There was a nice group present from the PSU Alumni Association, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter throughout the weekend. We began our weekend adventure with the Homecoming parade, then attended the alumni reception at Hintz Alumni Center (where I promptly sat in with the band on vocals as soon as I walked through the door!), and then enjoyed all that the weekend had to offer - visits to a variety of establishments, the football game, good food, and great company.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Voice Masterclass - October 14, 2009

One of my personal goals for this calendar year was to become a better singer, and continue to study voice during the remainder of my graduate work. I've been quite fortunate in this area. In the past spring semester, I studied with Professor Richard Kennedy. This semester, I've been placed with Amelia Rollings, a graduate student in the voice department. A graduate student studying with another graduate student isn't unusual, but it doesn't happen often.

I'm learning many different things this semester with my new teacher, Amelia Rollings. The first thing that I'm learning is how to REALLY belt in a healthy way. One of the other interesting things that I'm learning is that classical singing style is not disconnected from belting style. I'm also learning how to execute both styles equally well. Amelia's teaching style is grounded in some pretty current research and I'm looking forward to bringing as much of this back home as is possible.

As part of the requirements for voice lessons this semester, I had to participate in a voice masterclass. The selection that I performed for the masterclass is "I Am What I Am" from the musical, "La Cage Aux Folles" or "The Birdcage". The graduate student-teachers were quite helpful to all the students that evening, and it was fun to listen to all of the different music that everyone's been working on since the start of the semester. The clip is here for you to view - - not the best quality, but what can ya do when servers have limits, right? Anyhow...

I'm looking forward to the rest of the semester and all that I will learn from my upcoming lessons with Amelia. I hope that you enjoy the video and if you're in the area on the evening of December 2nd, that's when we're having our studio recital!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fun in Grad School...yes it does happen

How do we have fun in grad school? Well, between the classes, research projects, article writing, voice lessons (for me), meetings and graduate colloquium, we do find some time for fun. A few things that we've managed to do this semester include: PSU football game watching parties, karaoke night, Graduate Student Association dinner, cooking dinner for each other, conducting informal polls/research, seeing concerts...and there is much more to come because there is plenty of time left in the semester!

I've made some new friends this semester as well. Natalie is a new master of music education student. Sue is a civil engineering graduate student and one of Natalie's roommates. Stephanie is another one of Natalie's roommates. Teri is a new doctoral student, and Chuck is also a new master's student.

Jess and I are continuing to hang out, walk a mile or so together daily, and work on an article for publication with Tzu-Yi. We all try to get together when we can. It's tough scheduling though! Everyone's busy taking classes, teaching classes, and doing some sort of homework or research.

As the semester progresses, I'm sure that I'll post more of our adventures and fun times. Stay tuned!!!

Heidi's 1st Penn State Football Experience

The fall semester is flying by. The school work is going well and each day is an adventure. I have part-time work in a flower shop in downtown State College; it gives me a spending money and keeps me from sleeping until noon on a daily basis...I know most high school students would LOVE to be able to do that. Anyhow...

On Saturday, October 10, 2009, I attended my first Penn State football game. Paul and his brother, Chris, drove in from Pittsburgh late the night before. The game was against Eastern Illinois, so a win was greatly anticipated. The weather was chilly and gray at first, but became pretty sunny by the end of the fourth quarter.

Stopping at the Joe Pa statue was something I'd never done. I'd driven past it many times when going to and from campus, so we actually made it a point to stop and make the most of the photo opportunity.

The game was great. The win that we anticipated came true. I loved the Blue Band's half-time performance. It made me realize that I'm not exactly a BAD drill writer, just not a corps style drill writer!

After the game, Chris bought a new hat and sweatshirt, and we honored his request to go to the Meyer Dairy Store/Restaurant for ice cream. I enjoyed the overall experience. It was a good day.